The new year is here, so it’s time to start planning the beer festivals you want to hit this year. There are now literally thousands of beer festivals across the country. We tried keeping a list, but it was nearly impossible to track them all. So, we put together a list of some of the best beer festivals.
Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival, Jan 10-12, Vail, CO – This celebration of high-alcohol beers is held in the high elevation at a ski resort in the Rockies. Traditionally brewers bring out rare beers for attendees. This festival is often described as a “bucket list” beer festival by brewers themselves.
World Beer Festival, Typically held in Columbia, SC at the beginning of the year, Raleigh, NC, in April, and in Durham, NC in October – It’s hosted by All About Beer Magazine and is a celebration of beer culture and education, these beer festivals bring together the best of international, national and local beer.
Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival, Feb. 22-23, Grand Rapids, MI – Held outside, in the dead of winter, with typically unforgiving frigid weather. Only Michigan-brewed beers are offered and help with the frost almost as much as the bonfires scattered across the festival grounds. Warm attire is suggested.
Fred Fest, First Weekend in May, Portland, OR – An annual celebration of respected and legendary beer writer Fred Eckhardt. In addition to the rare beers offered from respected breweries, there is also an assortment of chocolates, cereal, cheese and candy – paying homage to Fred’s ability pair beer and food.
Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest, May/June, Paso Robles, CA – Hosted by one of the more respected and award-winning breweries, this central California festival attracts breweries of equal caliber. One session only, many brewers bring special offerings, and time their beer releases, ensuring a pour for all.
Oregon Brewers Festival , Last Weekend in July, Portland, OR, it’s a weekend full of activities along the riverfront in Portland. They bring in nearly 30 tractor trailers full of beer for the event, along with a buzz tent filled with plenty of rarities. Start the weekend off with the beer breakfast and parade, followed by 3 long days at the beer festival.
Great Taste of the Midwest, Second Saturday in August, Madison, WI. For over 30 years, the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild has hosted one of the biggest beer festivals in the midwest, featuring over 1,000 beers from 150 breweries (with at least a 3 year wait for new breweries to get in). It’s an awesome setting in the park next to the lake, and it offers unlimited samples during the 5 hour long event.
Sun King Canvitational, September, Indianapolis, IN – With a growing number of breweries offering their beers in cans, this is a celebration of canned craft beer. The beer festival brings together more than three dozen breweries, large and small, along with a large group of local food trucks.
Great American Beer Festival, September/October, in Denver, is perhaps the oldest and largest beer festival on the list. In it’s 37th year, the four-session, three-day long event features over 3,500 beers from over 500 breweries. It’s been selected as one of the 1000 things to do before you die, and draws over 60,000 people.
Great Pumpkin Beer Fest, October, Seattle, WA – Elysian Brewing Co. in Seattle takes pumpkin beer to a new level with its annual celebration of the seasonal fruit. Elysian themselves offer more than 15 different pumpkin beers, but another 50 breweries pour their own interpretations of the style.
Single, Fresh, Wet & Wild Harvest Festival, October, Chico, CA – Hosted by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., this festival celebrates the annual hop harvest. More than 50 breweries offer single-, fresh-, wet- and wild-hopped beers. Admission also includes a buffet-style food offerings from the brewery’s taproom.
Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers, November, Chicago, IL – Known as FoBAB, this annual event brings together everything from the funky to boozy beers, all aged on wood. Bringing in brewers from around the country, this is a must for anyone who enjoys beer that once lived in a barrel.
The Festival, November, – Held each year in a different location, it’s sponsored by Shelton Brothers beer importers. The Festival is a gathering of small craft beer, cider and mead makers. Serious beer geeks love it because they can get up-close and personal with the brewers themselves.
There are literally thousands of beer festivals across the U.S. every year, and we’ve only highlighted a few we feel are the best of the best. If you have any other suggestions, please comment on the article and add them here.